August was a strong month for heavy music, with some releases you’ll definitely be seeing on many year-end lists. Here’s our selection of the top five heavy metal albums released in August, 2016.
1. SubRosa – For This We Fought The Battle (Profound Lore)
For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages is SubRosa’s fourth full-length album. Six long songs sprawl out over a running time that exceeds the sixty minute mark, but the listener will never become bored. SubRosa are proficient at weaving together the gigantic riffs and percussion of doom metal with soft melodies. Vocalist/guitarist Rebecca Vernon plays both sides of SubRosa’s sound with her riffing and her vocals, and a dynamic bass is anchored by a mid-paced tempo that occasionally downshifts to a dirge.
SubRosa have delivered an excellent album that wonderfully brings together the hard and soft aspects of doom metal into a melancholic atmosphere. For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages will elevate SubRosa’s profile, and perhaps bring them to the forefront of doom metal as a whole.
2. Inquisition – Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith (Season Of Mist)
Continuing their interstellar trek, Inquisition release their seventh album, Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith. For those unfamiliar, Inquisition combine their blasting and tremolo-picked black metal with signature riffs and a taste for the cosmos to create a most cacophonous concoction.
Inquisition continue their trend of not only excellent black metal, but also their own brand of cosmic metal, too. In this age of black metal, Inquisition are the undisputed kings of the genre, as they continue to add to their catalog without compromise for what makes them so highly regarded. This is most surely to top many lists by year’s end and it is no surprise as to why.
3. Sodom – Decision Day (SPV)
As they unveil their fifteenth full length release Decision Day to the masses, Sodom have proven to be better than ever. Vocalist/bassist Tom Angelripper has never sounded as destructive and aggressive as he does here. He utilizes different characteristics to his voice and continues to grow as a singer. Throughout the release he adds guttural roars and a new black metal shriek that he has newly developed.
Simply put, Decision Day is brilliant. Angelripper and company seem to be out to prove that they aren’t resting on their laurels and their past accomplishments. This is their best album in 15 years and easily a candidate for album of the year. It is not every day when a band can retain their classic sound and incorporate brand new elements into their songwriting 35 years into a remarkable career. That is exactly what Sodom has achieved.
4. Sabaton – The Last Stand (Nuclear Blast)
Sabaton have always been a band you can bang your head to and learn something from. Their rousing power metal is based on historical events and battles, and that’s the case on their latest studio effort The Last Stand.
They follow their musical formula pretty closely with huge melodies and singalong choruses, but also incorporate a few different twists such as bagpipes on “Blood Of Bannockburn.” The streamlined release clocks in at under 37 minutes with not an ounce of filler. Sabaton fans will be well-satisfied with The Last Stand, and that fan base continues to grow with each album.
5. Wretch – Wretch (Bad Omen)
After the breakup of Gates Of Slumber, Karl Simon formed Wretch, which also includes drummer Chris Gordon (who was in Gates Of Slumber in the early 2000s) and bassist Bryce Clarke. Created in the aftermath of the death of Gates Of Slumber bassist Jason McCash, Simon says all the songs on the self-titled record are about McCash, about him, about their life and McCash’s death.
The first half of the album is mostly uptempo sludge. Their cover of the Judas Priest song “Winter” (from Priest’s 1974 debut album Rocka Rolla) transitions into the second half of the record, which is doomier and slower-paced. While similar to Gates Of Slumber, Wretch do establish their own identity. It’s an emotional, cathartic and deeply personal album.